Jackson County is one of just two metro area counties in which new homes sold for more last month than they did a year ago.

Jackson County is one of just two metro area counties in which new homes sold for more last month than they did a year ago.

Still, July’s construction and sales figures overall didn’t have that many bright spots.

A new home in Jackson County sold for an average of 263,702 last month, 3.2 percent higher than in July 2010. Cass County barely gained at all, and nine-country metro area average of $302,877 is 8.6 lower than a year, according to figures from the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors.

Prices in Jackson County are about in line with Clay and Ray counties ($258,947 in July) and exceed those in Cass ($233,513), Leavenworth ($204,350) and Wyandotte ($185,600) countries, but prices here are notably lower than in Platte County ($281,212) and way behind Johnson County ($364,513). Then again, Johnson and Platte counties saw the sharpest year-to-year declines in prices.

New-home sales have been steadily increasing this year, but fell from 192 metrowide in June to 154 last year. Still, the July number was sharply higher than a year ago, when the market had just been hit by the expiration of a federal tax credit.

Of course, new-home sales account for less than 10 percent of the metro market. Existing sales also dipped in July, down to 1,955, compared with 2,224 in June. Those sales also had been steadily rising in 2011.

The average existing home sold for $110,098 in Jackson County last month, down 2.68 percent in a year, roughly in line with the region’s 2.24 percent decline. The regional average was $153,956 in July, and Jackson County’s figure was lower than any county’s except for the $64,483 in Wyandotte County. Again, Johnson County leads the way at $236,166 despite a 6.3 percent drop in the last year.

Figures from the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City are equally sobering. Cities are issuing roughly one-fourth as many permits to build single-family homes as they did five or six years ago, and after a modest pickup in 2010 – the first in years – it doesn’t look as if builders will keep pace in 2011.

So far this year, builders have taken out 1,287 permits and would have significantly pick up the pace in the remaining five months of the year to match the 2010 total of 2,471. That was a nice gain of 14.6 percent over 2009 but still far below the 11,893 of 2005 and 9,384 of 2006.

The Homebuilders notes a trend: In July, 204 permits were issued, down from 262 in June – the fifth time in seven years for a June-to-July decline.

Blue Springs has seen a notable jump in permits, 36 so far this year, compared with 25 in the first seven months of 2010. Independence has seen a jump from 35 to an eye-popping 94. Grain Valley has had a slight drop, from 23 to 20, and Lee’s Summit is off a little, too, from 105 to 91.

Still, the HBA notes, those people venturing in to a home can get low interest rates, 4.32 percent on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and 3.5 percent for a 15-year mortgage, according to the Freddie Mac primary mortgage market survey.